Posts Tagged ‘GA’

Athens, GA cult legends get their snakey, jangly debut reissued, remixed by R.E.M.’s Bill Berry and Sugar’s David Barbe

It’s a good week for ’80s janglepop and Southern post-punk. Pylon are getting a box set and their essential first two albums reissued in November and, also just announced, their Athens, GA neighbours (and DB Recs labelmates) Love Tractor are getting their debut album reissued via Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records.

Coming up at the same time as R.E.M., Pylon and The B-52’s, Love Tractor share a little of those group’s DNA but were unique in the Athens scene in that they were an instrumental band, making jangly, danceable rock that didn’t need vocals to grab you. The band would start singing eventually, but early records were driven by the inventive guitar interplay between Mark Cline and Mike Richmond. Bassist Armistead Wellford added groove and R.E.M.’s Bill Berry was among the group’s early drummers for the band before Andrew Carter joined full-time.

Love Tractor’s debut album is catchy and atmospheric, and does it while mostly avoiding surf rock cliches you associate with instrumental rock. “When I hear it, I love it. It sounds like nothing else, like nobody else,” says Cline of the album, and I have to agree. The reissue has been remixed from the original tapes by Sugar’s David Barbe and Bill Berry, and features liner-notes from R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, The B-52’s Kate Pierson, and esteemed rock journalist Anthony DeCurtis. and the album’s artwork has been reimagined by the band (Cline, Richmond and Wellford are all visual artists.)

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The reissue is out November 4th (pre-order), but before that, Love Tractor will release a 7″ for the October Record Store Day “Drop” (10/24) featuring two newly recorded, re-imagined songs from their debut: “60 Degrees and Sunny” b/w “FESTI-vals.” They’ve also re-recorded “Seventeen Days” as a digital bonus track and you can listen to that, and stream the original album,

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Believe it or not, it’s tough to make it as a musician these days. You can hear this struggle clearly in “Personalia,” the first single from Athens, GA–based songwriter Locate S,1’s forthcoming album of the same name, as she opens the track with the line, “Almost killed myself so I went home / I just cannot take these local shows.” Yet the simmering new wave instrumentation isn’t the only sign of hope on the single, and the album to follow. “Personalia” takes its name from a Mary Ruefle poem, marking a shift in the poet’s creative life from an old woman’s spirit trapped in a young woman’s body to the inverse—that is to say, Locate S,1 represents a hopeful reinvention for Christina Schneider, who’s cycled through a number of musical projects before touring with Frankie Cosmos and signing to Captured Tracks under the new moniker.

Official video for “Personalia”, from Locate S,1’s new album, Personalia.

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Athens, Ga., has been a hotbed for great rock music (and music of all types) for the better part of the last 50 years, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change in the next 10. Raspy roots-rockers Futurebirds are four albums deep a decade into their career, but the arrival of their fifth is still a cause worth commemorating. Their earnest brand of country-tinged, sultry singsong fits right in alongside all your favorite indie-folk and Americana records. But Futurebirds are doing something different from many of those bands: Their three-part harmonies range from heartbreaking to chill-inducing, yet most of their songs possess a laid-back summery feel.

The songs on album number 5, “Teamwork”, find Futurebirds leaning into the psychedelic side of things, yet they’re as twangy as ever. “Trippin” takes delight in human error, “All Damn Night” is an escapist mountain holler tune and “Dream, Fam!” is a suspicious jam.

This record could take Futurebirds to the next level—bigger venues, heftier touring schedules—but for those of us who’ve been around with this band since the beginning, Teamwork is just another chapter in this century’s great southern rock story.

Futurebirds’ new song, “My Broken Arm”, from the new album Teamwork, out January 15th

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Hailing from Atlanta, GA, Neighbor Lady‘s new track “Oh Honey” starts off with a guitar riff that makes me feel like I’m in an old soda pop store in the 1950s. Girls walking around in big poodle skirts, fresh melts being served, and “Oh Honey” is playing in the background on the jukebox. Neighbor Lady is Emily Braden, Jack Blauvelt, Merideth Hanscom, and Andrew McFarland. Their debut LP, Maybe Later, consists of seven songs and drops May 11,

The track moves between two worlds. The first being really chill and simple sounding verses. Inviting you to relax, calm down and really listen to the lyrics. The second world is a more rebellious and in your face chorus, that brings with it powerful and honest lyrics.

The music video for Oh Honey is shot entirely on an iPhone 8 by the band. It seems like it was shot when the band was on tour and just messing around together. There are shots of the band playing in playgrounds, basket ball courts and next to a lake. What stands out is the use of color. From a rainbow umbrella to the band smearing different colored paints on glass,the use of color takes a leading role in this music video.

This video also has cats –wait for it–and dogs! Cats rolling around in leaves, dogs in the bath and being carried. What else could you want! The cats and dogs, images of the band dancing in the street, them chillin’ on the beach and climbing trees, gives the video a “home movie,” kind of feel. Comforting to watch but fun and powerful to listen to.

Their second single offering, Oh Honey, and it’s something of a departure from the almost bleak, emotionally draining brilliance of Let It Bleed. Here there’s more of a classic pop feel to proceedings; the pronounced, percussive piano, intricate country-influenced guitar work and propulsive drum beats could almost lure you into thinking this is actually quite upbeat. Thankfully, like, let’s face it, nearly all the best music, there’s still a touch of the darkness, Emily Braden’s stunningly melodic vocal, sharing a tale of a friendship fallen apart at the hands of a shared romantic interest. A mixture of barbed put downs and genuine regrets, it’s a track that walks from guilt to defiance and back again. Neighbor Lady are only two tracks in, could be a new name to watch.

Evolving from the confines of a solo project into an emotionally reaching five piece powerhouse, Juan de Fuca renders heavy dreams through the catacombs of their beautifully textured debut album Solve/Resolve. Shortly after singer/songwriter Jack Cherry released a 6 song solo EP cavern of in 2015, he was fervently encouraged by friends in the Athens, GA scene to make something bigger happen with his material. Bassist Jack Webster and drummer Howard Stewart pushed for the formation of a full band, and when guitarists Clark Brown and Declan Farisee signed on, the group began work in earnest developing a sound that drew as much on Shoegaze’s layers of blissful chaos as it did on the clenched-jaw melodicism of wiry early aughts post-punk and Lower East Side rock icons.

Like many pieces of great art, the path to making the debut Juan De Fuca album, Solve/Resolve, has not been an easy one. Much of the record is inspired by the loss of front-man Jack Cherry’s best friend, taking in themes of grief, addiction and attempting to come out the other side. As Jack explains, “it’s about trying to overcome something that you are just absolutely living with for the rest of your life”.

There’s obviously a touching point towards bands like The Walkmen, Jack’s vocal bares a striking resemblance to Hamilton Leithauser, and the more hazy, textural sound of Deerhunter. Solve/Resolve is a record that feels vital, one minute bristling with electric intent the next sliding into morose ambiance or waves of beautiful noise. Juan De Fuca could just be among the most exciting guitar-bands you’ll hear all year.

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the Band:

Jack Cherry
Howard Stewart
Jack Webster
Clarke Brown
Declan Farisee

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Hailing from Athens, Ga., the quintet comprised of Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson, her brother Ricky Wilson and Keith Strickland first gained fame in the late ”70s as a living, breathing creature that embodied the kitsch of ’50s sci-fi, ’60’s fashion and mid-60s rock and roll, all filtered through some bizarre LSD glazed lens, via a John Waters sensibility. Their image alone, including those beehive/b-52 hair-do’s, was attention grabbing, but the sonic blast that came with it was what kept them on the charts. Equal parts garage, surf, soul and rock and roll with feet firmly planted in the current times of the day, they were able to adopt a retro-futuristic motif that was, at the time, all their own.

Songs like “Rock Lobster,” “Strobe Light,” and “Private Idaho” got the initial party headed out of bounds, but one-trick ponies they were not. After Ricky died from complications related to AIDS in 1985, they bounced back with Cosmic Thing. Hits like “Roam” and “Love Shack” proved there was more to this lot than day-glo hijinks, as well as being further proof that their sound was, a decade into their career, still fresh. They withstood the temporary departure of Cindy, and 2008’s Funplex, showed the old kids still had lava in their lamps and new kinds of kicks to be hatched. A true American original, we give you the B-52’s albums .

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Black Lips have a new album out today, Satan’s graffiti or God’s art?, and to support it they have a new video for the snarling “Can’t Hold On.” This is their first video to feature the band’s new lineup: founding members Cole Alexander and Jared Swilley, joined by former guitarist Jack Hines, Oakley Munson on drums and Zumi Rosow on sax.

And man, this one’s gleefully dark and trippy, and has a budget lower than The Blair Witch Project. Scorpions, skulls, wandering dogs, teething babies, police officers, spinning hands and mounds of suds are all common images in the clip. There’s a point where the band is playing in a circle of flames, and that probably doesn’t even crack the top 10 of preposterous things.

Alexander snarls about not being able to hold on to anything, and that’s what this Ian Cone-directed video feels like. Everything is coming apart at the seams. And in that fracturing, a wonderful mess has been made.

Atlanta flower punk pioneers Black Lips and their first album in three years, Satan’s graffiti or God’s art?, is set for release May 5th on Vice Records. Produced by Sean Lennon at his studio compound in upstate New York throughout 2016, the album is the group’s most musically evolved to date, while still staying true to their original blistering take on fuzzy, dirty rock n’ roll.  

During the recording the band isolated themselves from the outside world, infusing the album with a focused liveliness similar to the spirit that brought them together in the first place. On Satan’s graffiti or God’s art? founding members Cole Alexander and Jared Swilley teamed with former guitarist Jack Hines (who played in the group from 2002-2004) and recent additions Oakley Munson on drums and Zumi Rosow on saxophone. The album also features contributions by Saul Adamczewski of Fat White Family and guest vocals by Yoko Ono.

Satan’s graffiti or God’s art? vindicates Black Lips for sticking it out through many years of shifting trends and buzz bands; a sonically captivating document that is as creatively unhinged as it is precisely executed, one of the rawest and most expansive albums in the band’s storied history.

The Sean Lennon-produced Satan’s graffiti or God’s art? is out now on Vice Records.  

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Kristine Leschper has been writing and performing under the moniker Mothers, attracting a small but fiercely devoted ring of admirers in her hometown of Athens Georgia. Last year, the trajectory of her music changed becoming increasingly more dynamic and complex, and her solo project soon expanded into a full-fledged band featuring Matthew Anderegg on drums, Drew Kirby on guitar and Patrick Morales on bass. The group’s first proper single, the emotionally empowering and feverish “No Crying in Baseball,” earned them some well-due attention from the blogosphere, but as it turns out, the track was also a bit of a decoy.

Mothers’ debut LP, due out sometime in 2016 and recorded by Drew Vandenberg (Of Montreal, Deerhunter, Toro y Moi), will feature a more discordant sound, one that brandishes elements of post-hardcore and math rock while presumably maintaining the spirit of the off-kilter art rock they’ve been unveiling up until now. With that said, it’s unclear whether the band’s latest single, “It Hurts Until It Doesn’t,” will appear on their debut or whether it’s another stylistic outlier meant to purge any traces of their formative songwriting approach before hitting the public with more trenchant material in the future. In any case, the track, and in particular Leschper, are a revelation.

Although the song glides dexterously from passage to passage, there’s something of Wire’s jagged melodicism and Protomartyr’s clenched-fist dramatics that infect it with a feeling of revolt and inner turmoil. Leschper’s distinct voice is elastic enough but what impresses me the most is the way in which she stretches and pulls it into a hardened coil that turns even the simplest of phrases into a moment fraught with existential upheaval. “I felt your love for a little while / But never had the guts to give myself up / I said that I could be just what you wanted / As if I could ever keep a promise” she sings in the second verse, but is she feeling wounded about her loss? Or is her self-awareness a mark of her power and resiliency? The truth is likely somewhere in between, and by deftly walking that emotional tightrope, Leschper is able to pull the song’s conflicted tension behind her like a dark and ominous cloud.